micro book review: mexican gothic by silvia moreno-garcia

The Yellow Wallpaper meets The Murmur of Bees in this surreal, Romantic (capital R!) novel set in a foggy mansion on a hillside in Mexico. As someone who lives in a parched, high desert forest, I crave stories of misty landscapes chock full of spores and things growing so densely they choke out inanimate objects like lamps and window sills and drywall. Fungus, however dangerous (especially in this narrative), draws me in with its softness, color, and diversity of shape. I imagine the fact that heroine Noemí Taboada wears full, flowing and bright dresses with many folds and layers is no coincidence to the importance of mushrooms in this dark story that’s glittered with hope like faint stars. Hysteria mocks her from deep within the yellowing walls of the old, haunted house while the living residents reminiscent of eugenicists tread all over her not-blue eyes, her not-blonde hair. They tread like snakes in secret, en el oscuro, perpetuating generations of pallid and pillaging serpents. Until a fiery girl like Noemí comes along. I didn’t know I’d devour this book so quickly, but I got lost in the main character’s refusal to fall into line, to merely become dirt in the earth and her tenacity to be seen, to be luminescent, and to vividly contrast the murky, boring postcolonial norm. Plus, it was a perfect escapist universe for the start of spooky season.

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